Nintendo Wii Gift Guide
A Boy and His Blob – A charming and inspired puzzle platformer by Wayforward, the developers of Shantae and Mighty Flip Champs. It is what a remake or re-imagining should be–it keeps the core concept of the original, but improves on it enough that the game feels fresh and new. The artwork is gorgeous, and shows off just what the Wii can do with inspired art direction and capable artists, and the gameplay is worthy of the excellent concept of shape-shifting puzzle solving, something the original game has a harder time claiming.
Boom Blox Bash Party – The game is great alone. The game is great with friends. The game is great even after you finish playing the 400 levels it was packaged with, because you can either replay those until you earn golds and achievements for all of them, or you can settle in and download even more levels from friends, strangers, or EA themselves. This is easily one of the top party titles of the year, and a great game for gamers, casual or core.
Dead Space: Extraction - The on-rails shooter that doesn’t feel like it’s on-rails; this game had a lot to live up to in order to be a worthy entry in the Dead Space series, but it succeeded in many ways. It has more depth than any on-rails title you’ve ever played, a great and engaging story, and many reasons to come back; namely, more difficulties, the Challenge modes, and the motion comics. This game stands up on its own as a great Wii title and one of the system’s better releases in 2009.
Excitebots: Trick Racing – This is a wonderful and unique racing game, and easily worthwhile even for those who have Mario Kart Wii in their collection. It’s a different experience than that, and even different than Excite Truck–as well as superior. Robotic animal cars that bowl, kick soccer balls and throw darts while racing around tracks at high speeds–it’s not something you see everyday, but it’s absolutely worth playing.
Grand Slam Tennis – The secret is in the name, and Grand Slam Tennis is ALL about completing a Grand Slam, or for tennis noobs, winning all four major championships: The Australian Open, The French Open, Wimbledon, and The U.S. Open. To do this in Grand Slam Tennis you’ll begin your to-be illustrious career as many role-playing games do, as a lowly kid off the street vying to become a pro, and will quickly be thrown into the fray whether you’re ready or not. It may look cartoony, but it’s the most realistic tennis game on the system.
House of the Dead: Overkill – Everything else about the game has been given so much careful attention in order to make sure that Overkill is the most fun you’ve ever had with the franchise. The gameplay is rock solid, the dialogue is witty and laced with memorable one-liners, and the title takes full advantage of the Wii’s control scheme and hardware, pushing the system graphically in a way many third-party developers have not. We cannot recommend this game to you enough, as it is in fact, "the hardcore you’ve been waiting for”–even if no one bought it when it released, you can still get it now, and cheaper too.
Little King’s Story - This is one of the best games on the Wii system, and one of the year’s top titles. It’s cute exterior and name belie its true intentions, with very adult themes and hardcore gameplay. The characters are larger than life in their personality, the artwork is inspired and gorgeous, and the gameplay combines elements from other genres in order to blaze its own trail. One part RTS, one part city sim, but mostly fun and funny, Little King’s Story is one of the top titles no one played this year; change that this holiday season.
MadWorld – MadWorld is not just what the Wii needs more of, it’s the kind of game that any "core" gamer needs. The story is solid, enough to keep you entertained during cutscenes, the announcers make senseless killing funnier than it ever should be, the comic book style is a wonderful fit for a game of this type and the system it is on, and the gameplay-wonderfully executed controls as well as the basic premise-are nearly flawless. Inititially criticized for its short length, the game is now at a reduced price, meaning there’s no reason not to own it.
Metroid Prime Trilogy - Three of the most important games in Nintendo’s history and one of the best trilogies in all of gaming, together in one package for the price of a single game. You get a collector’s edition case, special artwork, the definitive version of each game in the Prime trilogy, and worthwhile multiplayer for the first time in the series’ history, in addition to the loads of art and music you can unlock with the tokens from the achievement system. The one negative you could point out about these titles is that you have played them before, but given how well they hold up and how they lend themselves to replayability, that’s not much of a negative argument and certainly not a reason to avoid 80 hours of Retro’s masterpiece.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade – There has not been a better looking game on the Wii this year, and it’s also one of the better playing titles on the system in 2009. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a must-have for any gamer, as the game’s easier settings allow even those not accustomed to action games to enjoy the story, gameplay and gorgeous graphics, while those looking for a challenge are sure to find it on the two more difficult modes.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii - This game unifies those concepts of "hardcore" and "casual" that are tossed around by gamers and journalists alike, putting them together in one package that will bring a smile to the face of the most basic gamer and the most cynical headshot enthusiast. That alone is reason to own it, but knowing that you’re getting a game that gives you a reason to keep your Wii hooked up to a television even after this generation ends is impressive too.
Punch-Out!! – Next Level Games’ Punch-Out!! is a love letter to the original versions of the game, but it is also full of improvements to the series, like the title defense mode and the exhibition/achievement modes. Throw in the visual beauty of the title, along with the lovingly crafted sound effects, music and the fact that the gameplay is as fantastic today as it was 20 years ago, and you have yourself a serious contender on the Wii.
Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles - Sure, these on-rails shooters are not as good as the original titles, but there’s nothing wrong with a little alternate-genre nostalgia, especially when handled by Capcom. If you’ve got a zombie itch to scratch and a Wii, Darkside Chronicles is a solid choice.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 - Tiger Woods is the only sim golf game out there, much like EA’s Madden franchise. The Wii version is the superior one though, thanks to smartly implemented Motion Plus technology that makes this much more sim than game; you can’t play this one from your couch, but for many people, that’s a positive.
Wii Sports Resort – Even with the few mini-games, Wii Sports Resort packs enough quality into the title to make it a must-own Wii title. It makes great use of the new Wii MotionPlus accessory, and shows us what is possible now that Nintendo has the motion controls we initially believed would be included with the system in place. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a simple cash-in using the well-known Wii Sports name though, as Resort is a more than worthy successor, the far superior title, and one that should stay in your collection for both its single and multiplayer qualities.